Russia plagued with bomb threats
• The Kremlin condemned hundreds of bomb threats made by anonymous telephone callers against major public buildings in Russia as “telephone terrorism.” More than 150,000 people were evacuated from schools, hospitals, hotels, shopping centres, airports, railways stations and universities targeted by the bomb threats in at least 30 Russian cities since Monday. Dozens of buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg were evacuated Wednesday, but no traces of explosive devices have been found in any of the buildings. Officials from Russian security services investigating the calls are yet to make any official statements. “Once there are results, security services will announce them,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman. “It is a difficult task, and it requires patience.” Russian media have offered several different explanations as to who may be behind the calls, based on information from anonymous sources close to law enforcement. Earlier this week the staterun RIA Novosti news agency suggested that calls were coming from Ukraine, Russia’s adversary since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Yesterday, RIA Novosti reported that security services have information that people behind the attack were connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and perpetrators would soon be put on international wanted lists. Sources close to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) told RBC yesterday that it had tracked down “the source” of the attack. The Daily Telegraph was unable to verify any of the claims independently. The FSB’s press office was not available for comments, and a spokesman from the interior ministry told The Telegraph it did not have “any information about this.” According to media reports, evacuations and inspections have disrupted work of hundreds of facilities all over the country, from Kaliningrad in the west to Vladivostok in the far east. An administrator of a mall in Bryansk told the Kommersant newspaper that the number displayed on her phone started with +88, the country code for Bangladesh. The caller spoke in Russian and told her to “leave the building” because “there is a bomb inside.” The most recent call identified Red Square, the main tourist attraction point in Moscow, next to the Kremlin, as a supposed target. The calls are difficult to trace because they are made over the internet and are processed by different servers, including ones abroad, Gennady Gudkov, a Moscowbased security expert and former parliamentarian said. “That’s why the law enforcement hasn’t been able to catch anyone so far,” he said, adding that the wave of calls is likely to be a criminal organization rather than an anti-terrorism drill, because people would usually be warned in advance.